In an effort to regain the public's faith in the medical profession, members of the American College of Chest Physicians are roundly supporting a plan to dedicate themselves to emphasizing the needs of patients through a multidisciplinary approach to medicine.
Physicians attending the annual ACCP scientific assembly stood up Sunday in Orlando, Fla., and took a pledge to practice patient-focused care. The college and the American Association of Critical Care Nurses also officially endorsed creation of a partnership to develop interdisciplinary models of patient-centric healthcare, according to newly installed ACCP President Richard Irwin, M.D.
"This is the year for patient-focused care," says Irwin, chief of pulmonary allergy and critical care medicine at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center, Worcester, Mass. He has made it the primary initiative of his yearlong presidency. "It all began last night with the delegates loudly and clearly embracing the concept of patient-focused care."
Members of seven other medical specialty societies also took the pledge at the conference, though Irwin says they did so as individual practitioners, not as representatives of their organizations.
"We are in the midst of a healthcare revolution, and it is time for all who provide healthcare to practice patient-focused care and recapture the respect and goodwill of the American public," says Irwin, who holds professorships of both medicine and nursing at UMass.
Irwin says he bases his push on Time to Heal, a critique of medical education in the 20th century by Kenneth Ludmerer, M.D. In the book, Ludmerer talks of an "unrest, turbulence, and disintegration of existing institutions, but not yet by a platform or model" at the end of the 1990s.
Irwin describes the late ?90s as a "pre-revolutionary period," then calls patient-focused care the revolution Ludmerer had not yet identified.
Irwin says he wants to start by looking at care delivered in hospital intensive care units and at primary care and one undetermined specialty on the outpatient side. The ACCP will consider a proposal this week to fund a five-year study and project to create an interdisciplinary partnership "to work together in the best interest of patients," Irwin says.